In 1997, my husband was offered the opportunity to transfer to Sydney, Australia. Although I was thoroughly enjoying my newborn baby boy and living in the charming cobble stoned Beacon Hill area of Boston, it took less than two seconds for me to say, “Let’s go!” We packed very little, offered our apartment to a friend who was the chief resident of orthopedics at Massachusetts General Hospital, and in less than two weeks found ourselves "Down Under" trading our New England winter for New South Wales summer. Our first stop was a temporary corporate apartment in the hip and cool Sydney suburb of Paddington. My husband started work and I began looking for suitable lodging with a very jet lagged cranky baby in tow. In no time at all, I was smitten with a flat in Point Piper: our bedroom windows jutted out over Sydney Harbour and the white sails of the Opera House hung as a western backdrop. Best of all, we could continue our family tradition of walking my husband to work each morning. At the end of our walk was a ferry boat that moved commuters from the neighborhoods along the harbor to Circular Quay and the city’s business center. One of my son’s first words was “boat!”.
With perfect weather nearly year round, Sydney makes an ideal walking city. If you are up for some serious shopping and the hip and cool coffee drinking crowd, wander through Paddington. Up and coming designers, quaint locally-owned sandwich shops, and eclectic home design stores make shopping in Sydney awesome. Somehow Paddington remains unspoiled by huge international department stores on every block. Even if you stay in a hotel, a visit to Sydney’s Fish Market will thoroughly entertain. A “Behind the Scenes Tour” of the world’s third largest fish market (in terms of number of different species for sale) inspired me to cook more fish, but to do so with a conscience. The best fresh pasta outside of Italy can be found at Pastabilities. Hooked on fried panko crumbed potato and garlic ravioli’s I served as an appetizer at Easter and the cracked black pepper fettuccine served with butter and fresh Parmesan Reggiano, I became somewhat of a pasta junkie. I made the trip to browse the fresh pasta cases two or three times a week. The dollar was strong and eating out was more affordable than stateside so we indulged often. Dim Sum is available seven days a week, Thai food is authentic, and the Aussies are passionate about seafood. Long before the market or farm to table movement became trendy in the U.S., Australia served fresh and local ingredients. Any trip to Sydney should include brunch at Bather’s Pavillion in Balmoral. It is here that I learned just how much Australians value lifestyle: there is no hurry at the table and people watching is sport.
BILL's SYDNEY FOOD by Bill Granger
THAI STREET FOOD by David Thompson